Centromyrmex gigas

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Centromyrmex gigas
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Centromyrmex
Species: C. gigas
Binomial name
Centromyrmex gigas
Forel, 1911

Centromyrmex gigas casent0179476 profile 1.jpg

Centromyrmex gigas casent0179476 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels

According to Luederwaldt (1926: 238), who discovered two colonies of the present species in termite nests of Syntermes dirus Burmeister (probably not dirus but wheeleri, cf. Araujo, 1958: 211-2), single colonies seem to consist of very few individuals and alate sexual offspring is found in the nest in October. One nest contained only three individuals (incipient colony?). H. S. Lopes, as reported by Borgmeier (1937: 223), found the same species at Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro City, likewise in a nest of Syntermes sp. (Kempf 1967)


A member of the brachycola species group.

Keys including this Species


Kempf reports this species from southeastern Brazil and adjacent areas of Argentina.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 3.4025° to -22.908°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Brazil (type locality), French Guiana.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.


Explore-icon.png Explore Overview of Centromyrmex biology 
All of the species in the genus appear to be termitophagous and all are superbly adapted to this specialised predatory life style. Observations of some species have found them to be rather helpless when placed in an exposed, open situation. Weber described what happened when he found a worker “just beneath the soil surface under a thin cover of dead leaves”. The ant was “completely helpless when exposed to the daylight and writhed about when placed on the ground or in my palm. It made no attempt to run away, curling and uncurling without stinging, though it had a long, stout sting”. In other words, it seemed unable to walk when removed from its specialised habitat and placed on a surface where it could not use its specialised legs. If not discovered within a termite nest, individuals are occasionally found in the top soil or the root-mat below the leaf litter layer, where their short, powerful, spiny legs facilitate their movement. (Weber 1949, Bolton and Fisher 2008).



The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • gigas. Centromyrmex gigas Forel, 1911c: 287 (w.) BRAZIL (São Paulo).
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-locality: Brazil: Prov. São Paulo, Ypiranga (v. Ihering).
    • Type-depositories: MHNG, DZSP.
    • Borgmeier, 1937b: 223 (q.).
    • Status as species: Luederwaldt, 1918: 35; Borgmeier, 1923: 63; Santschi, 1933e: 106; Borgmeier, 1937b: 223; Borgmeier, 1939: 418; Kempf, 1967b: 407 (redescription); Kempf, 1972a: 75; Bolton, 1995b: 140; Bolton & Fisher, 2008c: 26; Feitosa, 2015c: 98.
    • Distribution: Argentina, Brazil.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.



Kempf (1967) - Total length about 12 mm. Head length 1.76-1.92 mm; head width 1.94-2.23 mm; thorax length 2.93-3.20 mm; hind tibia length 1.20-1.33 mm; hind metatarsus length 0.85-0.96 mm. Rather reddish brown than amber-colored, generally darker than Centromyrmex brachycola. Mandibles distinctly dentate at basal half, chewing border forming an obtuse angle with basal border. Head distinctly broader than long, sides more rounded, converging cephalad. Occiput gently concave. Clypeus without a median tumulus on disc. At posterior end of frontal sulcus often a rudimentary ocellus. Mesoepinotal suture either absent or indicated by a faint transverse notch. Mesopleura often divided by a transverse suture into anepisternum and catepisternum. Epinotum not so strongly constricted nor depressed as in brachycola; basal face often with a faint, saddle-shaped impression in the middle; declivous face less oblique than in brachycola. Metasternal angle more extensively striolate. Mesial spur of middle tibiae long and projecting beyond apex of tibia. Extensor face of hind tibiae with spine-like setae on apical half. Petiole as shown in Figs. 9 and 10; note the long subpetiolar process. Sternum I of gaster with a marginate tuberosity beneath petiolar insertion.


Kempf (1967) - Head length 1.86-2.00 mm; head width 2.13-2.29 mm; maximum diameter of eyes 0.53-0.67 mm; thorax length 3.47-4.00 mm. Similar to the worker with the usual differences of the caste. Wings as in brachycola, hind wing with 8 hamuli.

Type Material

Kempf (1967) - Syntypes in the collections of the Departamento de Zoologia da Secretaria de Agricultura de Sao Paulo (DZSP), of Forel and in my own (WWK).


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Borgmeier T. 1923. Catalogo systematico e synonymico das formigas do Brasil. 1 parte. Subfam. Dorylinae, Cerapachyinae, Ponerinae, Dolichoderinae. Archivos do Museu Nacional (Rio de Janeiro) 24: 33-103.
  • Borgmeier T. 1939. Nova contribuição para o conhecimento das formigas neotropicas (Hym. Formicidae). Revista de Entomologia (Rio de Janeiro) 10: 403-428.
  • Cuezzo, F. 1998. Formicidae. Chapter 42 in Morrone J.J., and S. Coscaron (dirs) Biodiversidad de artropodos argentinos: una perspectiva biotaxonomica Ediciones Sur, La Plata. Pages 452-462.
  • Forel A. 1911. Ameisen des Herrn Prof. v. Ihering aus Brasilien (Sao Paulo usw.) nebst einigen anderen aus Südamerika und Afrika (Hym.). Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 1911: 285-312.
  • Franco W., N. Ladino, J. H. C. Delabie, A. Dejean, J. Orivel, M. Fichaux, S. Groc, M. Leponce, and R. M. Feitosa. 2019. First checklist of the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of French Guiana. Zootaxa 4674(5): 509-543.
  • Franco W., and R. M. Feitosa. 2018. Discovery of the termite specialist ant genus Centromyrmex, Mayr 1866 Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Ponerinae) for the Guiana Shield. Sociobiology 65(2): 345-347.
  • Kempf W. W. 1959. Insecta Amapaensia. - Hymenoptera: Formicidae. Studia Entomologica (n.s.)2: 209-218.
  • Kempf W. W. 1967. A synopsis of the Neotropical ants of the genus Centromyrmex Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Studia Entomologica 9: 401-410.
  • Kempf W. W. 1978. A preliminary zoogeographical analysis of a regional ant fauna in Latin America. 114. Studia Entomologica 20: 43-62.
  • Kempf, W.W. 1972. Catalago abreviado das formigas da regiao Neotropical (Hym. Formicidae) Studia Entomologica 15(1-4).
  • Kusnezov N. 1956. Claves para la identificación de las hormigas de la fauna argentina. Idia 104-105: 1-56.
  • Luederwaldt H. 1918. Notas myrmecologicas. Rev. Mus. Paul. 10: 29-64.
  • Santschi F. 1933. Fourmis de la République Argentine en particulier du territoire de Misiones. Anales de la Sociedad Cientifica Argentina. 116: 105-124.
  • Scott-Santos, C.P., F.A. Esteves, C.R.F. Brandao. 2008. Catalogue of "Poneromorph" ant type specimens (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) deposited in the Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil. Papeis Avulsos de Zoologia 48(11):75-88.
  • Vittar, F. 2008. Hormigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) de la Mesopotamia Argentina. INSUGEO Miscelania 17(2):447-466